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How Can You Optimize for Voice Search?

By Valerie DiCarlo on Oct 10, 2018

Hey, Siri! Hey, Alexa! OK, Google!

The fact that these names (I am very carefully not calling them people!) have become household terms is a good indication that optimizing your website for voice search should be an important factor in your customized SEO plan.  

As mobile devices have become increasingly voice-friendly and personal assistant devices have entered homes and offices, voice search has become a growing trend. But that means that you need to make sure your SEO strategy is keeping up with all of the opportunities that voice search presents.

In this blog I’m going to walk you through a few key characteristics of voice search that should guide your voice search SEO strategy. Then I’ll provide you with a list of practical ways to optimize your website to make sure that it takes advantage of all the opportunities that voice search offers your website’s audience.

Characteristics of voice search

Although voice searching is still a way to find an answer to a question or a solution to a problem, there are a few qualities that make voice search different from typing on a computer or mobile device. You should keep these unique qualities in mind when you create your customized SEO plan:

  • Voice queries use more words and are more conversational than typing. Think about ordering a pizza. If you type it into the search bar of your laptop, you’re likely to type something like, “best pizza near me.” It’s short and clipped. But when people search through voice, they tend to use more words, like, “Hey, Alexa! What’s the best pizza place near me?”
  • Voice queries are more likely to contain questions. The pizza searching example above is a case in point. When you speak (instead of type), you’re more likely to use complete phrases, and those phrases often happen to be questions (because you’re searching to find an answer or a solution, after all!).
  • Voice search is tied to mobile. When Siri first came out on the iPhone, it was a revolution in the mobile industry. Now voice search is a standard feature on mobile devices, and one of the places where voice search is used frequently.
  • People use voice search because it makes their lives easier. Sometimes your hands are covered in flour, but you can’t remember how many eggs to put in the cake. Other times you’re driving and need voice search so that you can keep two hands on the wheel. Perhaps you don’t want to stop what you’re doing and just need a quick response. The moral of the story is: People use voice search because of the unique user experience it provides.

How to optimize your website for voice search

The characteristics above aren’t just interesting facts. They are nuggets you can use to optimize your website for voice search. Here are some practical tips that can get you started with that process.

  • Answer the questions your customers are asking. Remember how I said that voice search has more queries in the form of questions? Use that to your advantage. Whether it’s a blog, or a FAQ page, answer the questions your customers are asking directly and succinctly. A pro-tip: Figure out where you want your online leads to come into your company’s sales funnel, and answer the questions that are most closely related to that stage.
  • Take advantage of the fact that many voice searches are mobile. There are a few ways that you can optimize for this:
    • Emphasize local (and fill out Google My Business fully and accurately). Mobile searchers are often associated with local searching. Here’s why: if you’re out and about in a downtown area, you will likely be searching for shopping purchases and places to eat in your vicinity. So by making sure that your local information is clear, you can actually optimize for voice search
    • Be ready for (and create content to foster) the warm leads that on-the-go (and ready to purchase) mobile searchers put into your sales funnel. For example, if someone is driving in the car and says, “Hey, Siri, what’s the best place to buy shoes near me?” that person is probably thinking of visiting a shoe store before the end of the day. By making sure that your online presence can guide someone at the end of the sales funnel, you’re helping your voice search game.
  • Use schema markup. Schema markup is very simple coding that tells what type of information a particular chunk of content is. For example, through schema markup you could indicate that a particular string of numbers is a phone number. Here’s how schema markup can help you in the voice search realm:
    • Get the categorization of the information right. Because searching by voice is a different experience, it’s really important that a result is precise and accurate. Schema markup can help get those immediate, relevant answers to voice searchers.
    • Google is in the beginning stages of implementing Speakable, a type of schema markup that will allow a content creator to indicate what set of information (for example, in a news article) should be read in response to voice search. Because it improves the user experience, it could help your SEO.

At the end of the day, voice search can be an opportunity for your business to rise above the rest by catering to a potential customer’s needs a little bit better than everyone else. It’s worth the effort to take a few small steps to get that edge.